It's a musical journey, I suppose.


9 jui. 2006, 2h09m

I've seen quite a few people writing entries that are essentially a history of their musical interests, so I thought I would write one of my own as I currently have far more interest in thoroughly wasting my time than doing anything remotely productive.

I have always had a strong interest in music. My first favourite band was The Shadows - they were also my grandfather's favourite band, and by the time I was 3 or 4, I was "borrowing" his cassettes (I still have some of them, or copies Mum made for me). I would have to credit The Shadows for forming the foundation upon which my musical taste has been built. I think both my enjoyment of melodic rock and my interest in the guitar and its possibilities both stem back to The Shadows, especially the playing of Hank Marvin. He inspired me to pick up the guitar in the first place.

I used to quite enjoy raiding my parents' collection of cassettes (this was 1987-1993; I didn't live in a house with a CD player until 1998), and as my father is a big Queen fan, I was familiar with the brilliance of Freddie Mercury and Co. from an early age. My mother possessed some Dire Straits and Talking Heads recordings, though it would turn out that I'd only become a fan of one: Mark Knopfler is an awesome guitar player and I love Dire Straits, but while I quite enjoy some Talking Heads songs (Psycho Killer and Life During Wartime especially), I don't enjoy most of their catalogue. Also, at this time in my life, the radio station in my semi-rural New Zealand town hadn't gone completely to crap (nor had the ones we got from Wellington) and so I was introduced to the excellence of homegrown goodness such as Split Enz and Crowded House. Also courtesy of the radio, I acquired my first favourite song at age three - Orange Crush by R.E.M. I still love that song, maybe for the sentimental value, but I find R.E.M. to be a hit-or-miss band; some of their songs are incredible (Drive, Feeling Gravity's Pull, What's The Frequency Kenneth, Driver 8), while others put me to sleep and I really can't single out a single album that I enjoy from start to finish, though Fables Of The Reconstruction is probably my favourite.

Probably the most significant musical aspect of my early childhood, however, was one that at the time seemed quite minor. My uncle was a U2 fanatic, and being born in the year of The Joshua Tree, U2 was consistently on the radio thanks to the huge success of Joshua Tree's One Tree Hill in New Zealand. Although U2 weren't as prominent in my household as Queen, Dire Straits, or Talking Heads, they were the band that everyone knew and respected. I honestly never heard a bad word about U2 until I was 16, such was the general respect they have been held in amongst those I know. My interest in U2 stayed steady, and the first CD I ever bought was the Best Of 1980-1990 when I was 11; I was instantly taken by songs such as Pride, New Year's Day, and especially Bad. I would listen to Bad on repeat multiple times; the "isolation, desolation, various -tions" verse moved me like music had not before.

Unfortunately, it wasn't long afterwards that my musical tastes clattered off the rails a bit. I retained my interest in U2 and they were always nominally my favourite band, but my goodness, I got into some awful stuff around age 13-15. I'd be happier to leave some artist names unmentioned, though I will credit them with maintaining my interest in heavier music; when I was little, The Shadows' more uptempo songs were enough to satisfy the urge of my young ears to hear rocking music, and when I was 11, I acquired a Metallica CD (admittedly, a not particularly good one in Reload, though I still have an attachment to The Unforgiven II and The Memory Remains), and a couple of bands who shall remain unnamed kept my enjoyment of heavier music at least somewhere nearby and certainly made me more open to music in the future.

Probably the biggest trainwreck my musical tastes ever experienced was after I became a Christian when I was 15. I had the misfortune to know Christians who thought CCM was the best thing ever and I basically just followed their lead in the early months of my faith. So, yes, I listened to really, really bad music such as the Newsboys. Thankfully, I soon came to my senses and realised how musically untalented and lyrically stale and empty it all is.

This also neatly co-incided with the development of my U2 fandom - indeed, the two were intertwined. A month before my 16th birthday, for Christmas 2002, my mother gave me U2's Best Of 1990-2000. I put it on straight away: it was good, pretty enjoyable muisc ... and then Gone hit me like a sack of bricks. Wow. Fortuitously, the next month, a friend of my mother's gave me a couple of videos of U2 live, Under A Blood Red Sky and Rattle And Hum. The performances of 11 O'clock Tick Tock and Bad left me stunned; I watched 11 O'clock Tick Tock so much that my video no longer plays properly around that point.

I knew I had to have everything U2 had released, and within a matter of months I had U2's entire discography and was soon into bootleg trading. From 2003 through to 2005, my music was characterised by my interest in U2, especially in the band's live setlists, peaking with my joining as a co-maintainer of our concert archive and then seeing U2 live in Boston. While in the US, I took advantage of cheaper CD prices to in Australia and New Zealand and picked up some albums by other bands whose songs I enjoyed. Already during 2005, my interest in Crowded House and Split Enz had been growing as my homesickness for New Zealand increased (I left for Australia in 1998 and had last holidayed home in 2003). And the CDs I bought in the US were to radically change my musical tastes for the better.

The most notable purchases I made in the US were CDs by Dream Theater and Porcupine Tree, and a friend gave me Joy Division's Closer. These albums profoundly impacted the way I thought about music and opened up a whole world that seemed made for me to enjoy. Over the last year, I have discovered such an incredible wealth and diversity of music, and fantastic bands such as Anathema, Circus Maximus, Blackfield, and Pure Reason Revolution. I have moved from the initial base in progressive rock/metal into other areas of metal, especially discovering death and doom metal and the atmospheric stylings of Agalloch, and also into more experimental fields, and I'm now starting to really get into post-rock.

One important part that got lost in my chronology is actually my first experience with progressive music - on a drive from the Gold Coast to Melbourne in 2003, my stepfather put on a live album by Pink Floyd. I was awestruck, especially by Sorrow. That song captivated me. As soon as we got home, I borrowed the CD, but my interest in Pink Floyd never really took off until 2005, when I became quite taken by Dream Theater and Porcupine Tree and began exploring the history of progressive music.

At the moment, after about six months of going off U2, I'm starting to have the desire to listen to their music again, though mainly the eighties material and the Passengers side project. I'm an unorthodox U2 fan in that I think Achtung Baby is one of U2's weakest albums (four classic songs, a couple more decent ones, and then six loads of rubbish including the horrifically over-rated One), I vehemently disagree that All That You Can't Leave Behind is U2's "third masterpiece" and consider most of it worthless, and I tend to prefer the more obscure U2 material, though certainly not intentionally. And I think Where The Streets Have No Name, Bad, The Unforgettable Fire, and New Year's Day are four of U2's ten best songs, so I certainly haven't anything against the popular stuff.

So, to wrap up, my opinions at the moment:

Favourite band: Dream Theater, Porcupine Tree, or U2
Favourite song: Without a doubt, the performance of One Tree Hill from 26 December 1989, the five best minutes of music in my collection
Top five albums:
1. The Unforgettable Fire - U2
2. The Joshua Tree - U2
3. Awake - Dream Theater
4. Stupid Dream - Porcupine Tree
5. Judgement - Anathema
Favourite genre: Progressive rock/metal

It'll be interesting to review this in a year, given the changes of the last year and my presently insatiable appetite for new music.


  • Stumpflower

    Nice story, I was bored enough to read the whole thing. I have only been into music since i was 12, and i'm 13 now, so i'd say my music has travelled very very quickly. It basically all started out with Aerosmith - Dude (Looks Like A Lady). After i heard that song, I got into rock music. I learned more about aerosmith, then i got into Guns N' Roses, then Van Halen, and my music librarys grew by new bands all the time. I them got into Progressive Stuff when i heard Rush - YYZ. I was obessed. Then, just probably 4 months ago, I discovered Dream Theater, which really made a drastic change in my music by making me have a liking for the harder stuff. And to sum up my tiny history with little detail: Favorite Bands: Aerosmith Rush Scorpions Journey Dream Theater Favorite Songs: Scorpions - No One Like You Rush - YYZ Aerosmith - Eat The Rich Dream Theater - Another Day Favorite Albums: Dream Theater - Images And Words Rush - Moving Pictures Aerosmith - Toys In The Attic

    9 jui. 2006, 2h47m
  • U2Angel

    I am proud to say I was born in the year of The Unforgetable Fire. 'Pride' went number one in Australia 12 days before the blessed event.

    10 jui. 2006, 8h39m
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